Wild Horse Hater Ryan “Dinkie” Zinke refers to himself as a geologist: That’s a job he’s never held

Breaking! Support Calls Needed This Week Before Iconic African Species Protection Act Advances To California Senate Committee On Public Safety On April 24th

Brazil Debates Fate of Millions of Idled Donkeys

APODI, Brazil—The dependable donkey once did it all here in northeast Brazil, from hauling in the harvest to carrying children to remote schoolhouses. Now so many of these ubiquitous beasts of burden populate this vast swath of rural Brazil that they have become a problem—and for some, an opportunity.

Modernity and the skyrocketing sale of motorcycles have demoted the burro from its long-held status. Once cherished here for their hardy load-carrying, donkeys are increasingly seen as a nuisance as they saunter into traffic or munch greenery in people’s yards.

“Today, a donkey is born and nobody wants it,” lamented Eribaldo Nobre, 53, whose family used donkeys to lug fresh water home when he was a child. “Progress made this animal worthless.”

Enter China, where soaring demand for protein has put donkey meat on the menu. But Chinese consumers hanker after more than just the meat. They also have a growing craving for ejiao, a gelatinous substance made from boiled donkey hides, which is said to boost health, reverse aging and serve as an aphrodisiac.

Brazil, with 1 million donkeys and world-class slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants, is now looking to cash in. The plans to do so have touched off an emotional struggle between those who see donkeys as animals to exploit, even to consume, and those who want to protect what they see as a steadfast emblem of Brazilian rural life.

The front line of that fight lies here in the northeast, where 90% of Brazil’s donkeys can be found meandering among small farming communities.

“Donkeys are a symbol of Brazil’s northeast,” said Geuza Leitão, president of an animal-rights group in Ceará state north of here and author of “Your Excellency, The Donkey,” a book eulogizing the humble burro. “We want them to leave the donkey alone.”

A slaughterhouse focusing on donkey-derived exports to China is being built here just outside of Apodi, a town of 36,000 where donkeys often impede the very cars and motorcycles that made them obsolete. It will be the second donkey abattoir designed with the Chinese market in mind, after a facility in Bahia started small-scale donkey slaughtering last year in a pilot program that Brazilian and Chinese officials hope will soon expand.

“We want to open the door to this market as soon as possible,” said Luis Rangel, an official at Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry who oversees safety standards and has been working with Chinese officials to further exports. “We’re looking for new agricultural products, because we’re already champions in the traditional ones,” he added, referring to Brazil’s huge cattle industry.

Brazil hasn’t yet issued the sanitary licenses necessary to enable regular shipments of donkey products to China, nor has China approved the import of products from the two donkey slaughterhouses. But both sides are so confident that shipments of donkey products to China will begin later this year that they are already hatching joint plans to go beyond the current feral or semi-feral population and genetically improve donkeys, which have long gestation periods and don’t lend themselves to large-scale production like cattle.

The Chinese government and Dong-E-E-Jiao Co., one of the country´s largest ejiao producers, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In some parts of the world, China’s appetite for donkey meat and hides is viewed with revulsion. Several African countries that had been big providers of donkeys have recently prohibited donkey sales. According to a report by the Donkey Sanctuary, a British animal-rights group, those animals were often stolen before their skins were shipped to China.

The demand for ejiao has caused China’s own donkey population, once the world’s largest, to fall by nearly half to 6 million animals since 1990. More than 1.8 million donkey skins are traded annually, according to the Donkey Sanctuary, which estimates a market for some 10 million hides a year.

Some here see northeastern Brazil filling the void, but there is ample resistance to the notion in a place where people have a special place in their hearts for the burro. Singers have dedicated ballads to them in this region, where donkeys, not dogs, are considered man’s best friend.

José Sena de Lima, who is 96, still keeps three donkeys on the ranch where he lives near Apodi. When the family house was built in the 1930s, he said, his father had the help of two donkeys and a mule.

“If you didn’t own a donkey, you would often have to carry stuff on your own back,” said Mr. de Lima, who still talks about the animals with gratitude.

Adailton Torres Filho, 53, remembered how his baby sister, suffering from a nutritional deficiency, got stronger when their parents fed her donkey milk.

But there are also cautionary tales about the out-of-control population. Geneclayton de Gois Almeida, 40, a veterinarian, said his father was killed 20 years ago when his car hit a donkey lying on the road after having been hit by another vehicle. “In the northeast, we all know someone who was involved in a car accident somehow related to a donkey,” he said.

 Those hoping to save the animals from the slaughterhouse are seeking ways to make them worth more alive than dead.Adroaldo Zanella, a professor at the University of São Paulo veterinary and animal-science shool, is working with a student researching the viability of milking donkeys, with an eye taking advantage of the liquid’s high nutritional content and pleasant flavor to help infants with special nutritional needs and children who have trouble digesting cow’s milk.

“Donkey milk is very close to human milk in terms of nutritional value,” Mr. Zanella said, adding that it sells in Europe for 15 to 20 times more than cow’s milk. Given that donkeys can be had for free here, Mr. Zanella said, a startup farm to produce donkey milk could work in Brazil, too.

In Ceará state, where the road department spends nearly $1 million a year to collect burros and other animals wandering on roadsides, road superintendent Igor Vasconcelos Ponte said he was considering creating a visitation center for veterinary students and others interested in researching the animals on the ranch near Santa Quintéria where they are kept.

The ranch could even become a tourist attraction, he said, having noticed how Brazilians from other parts of the country like to pose for pictures when they see the donkeys here.

“It’s as if they were in Australia and found a kangaroo,” Mr. Ponte said.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/brazil-debates-fate-of-millions-of-idled-donkeys-1523098801

Feel Good Sunday: A Tale of Three Twinkies

by Women of Age Riding Horses.com

April 6, 2018 was National Hostess Twinkies Day, a salute to the cream filled cake invented in Illinois in 1930. When we were young, Twinkies were standard store in our kitchen cupboard. When we did our homework, made our beds mom rewarded us with Twinkies.  Good memories.

Twinkie? A silly name for a kids snack. But it got us thinking here at WARHorses. We horse owners have a propensity to name our horses with cute names…we wondered. Has anyone ever named their horse Twinkie? You betcha!

A Tiny TWINKIE
Probably the most well-known, Twinkie, the first mini trained as a guide horse for the visually impaired. Trained by Janet and Don Burleson of the Guide Horse Foundation in 1999, the idea for service minis occurred to them during a visit to NYC. Impressed by the “street smarts” of the horses around Central Park they decided to explore working with horses as a alternative to dogs.

“There is a history of relationships between horses and the visually impaired.” Janet said, “I knew of a blind rider who successfully showed in Hunter Pleasure. Her horse had learned to look out for her, to travel straight and to navigate the corners. There was such a bond between that horse and rider. Don and I also considered needs in other areas where horses would be useful, such as, helping to pull wheelchairs for the physically-challenged and assisting people who are able but have difficulty standing up.”

Many visually impaired appreciate the benefits of minis as an alternative to traditional dogs; minis can be housebroken, they do not get fleas, they offer a longer service lifespan 20 years compared to 6 for dogs and they are stronger so people can lean on them to help stand. Miniature horses have been officially approved as guide animals as stated in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Twinkie, the first official guide horse, has been a media super star for over a decade. He is now retired living out his days as a mascot for the Guide Horse program.

A “Bad” TWINKIE Our next Twinkie horse is a 2-year-old mare from Poland. In 2012 this Twinkie got herself into a bit of trouble. She leaped from her paddock and ran the neighborhood. Ran until she fell into a 4-foot-deep muddy drainage ditch then couldn’t get out. Firefighters came to the rescue (as they always do), pumped out the mud, formed a makeshift harness and hoisted the irritated Twinkie (her ears were pinned the entire time) to firm ground.

Said her owner, Janusz Topolczyka, “I don’t imagine she’ll be keen on going on another walkabout anytime soon.”

 

And finally a STINKY TWINKIE
Stinky Twinkie is a chestnut thoroughbred mare who raced in 2005. She did well with 3 wins, 3 places and 8 shows earning $49,112. She must have been retired from the track then resurfaced in 2009. She was at a breeding farm, Middle Creek/Norcrest Farm in Troupsburg, New York. It was not a good place. The horses at this farm were so badly neglected officials confiscated them. 85 neglected horses were transported off the property under the direction of the Finger Lakes SPCA and Vicki Bolton (then 57), chair of the Alfred State College Agriculture and horticulture Department. Vicki, her college students, local rescues and community volunteers took in the suffering horses. Stinky Twinkie was identified by her lip tattoo. She was one of the survivors and now enjoys the good retirement she deserved.

We’ve met three horses named Twinkie. Perhaps all this Twinkie talk has given you a hankering? Go for it! Today is a holiday, enjoy! Twinkies are a mainstay at every corner convenience and grocer store in the North America. For our friends down under who can’t buy Twinkies in the store – http://www.usafoods.com.au/  – you’re welcome!


Photography Courtesy Giphy and the Guide Horse

http://womenofageridinghorses.com/training/features/a-tale-of-three-twinkies/

Dispersal: Moving out into a dangerous world

by Peter Friederici as published on the Arizona Daily Sun

“We have no precise words for how the wolf was known and loved or feared…”

m1572 on his last day. Photo by Michele James

The story begins with a wolf standing by the side of the road. This isn’t the story you might think. There’s no helpless girl, no feckless pigs, no trickery. What there is, is hunger. Hunger for food, as always, and a hunger to roam. The woods are broad. Even though they are cross-stitched with fences and pocked with houses that must be avoided they extend on and on and they are rich with the tracks and scents of deer and elk and rabbits. The going is not difficult and it’s easy to find places to hide in rocky outcrops, thickets, copses of oak. It is only the roads themselves that are the challenge. It is second nature to figure out the trajectory and velocity needed to intercept a deer fleeing along a grassy meadow edge but the speed on roads is incalculable, incomprehensible, and the crossing is a gamble.

Or: the story begins with a young man, almost a boy still, on the side of the road. There’s no hunger, at least not of the deep-seated kind the wolf feels, the in-the-bones aching for protein. The suburbs are fat and if anything it is too easy to be sated: not only by food in a million varieties, but also by the sinuous winding of the well-kept roads, the smooth expanses of lawn, the houses kept up to a fare-thee-well, the friends and acquaintances who all seem to accept it as a given. It’s all too easy, too shiny, too manicured. No, this hunger is of a different sort. Call it a need for emotional protein.

In my case the result was a pickup truck, the smallest kind you could get, because in my particular Midwestern suburb a pickup didn’t belong and so it was a way of expressing that magic word west. Or West, specifically, meaning far enough west that things were no longer flat, manicured, predictable. And the pathway was those big ribbons of road, so well known and comfortable from all those days and nights spent traversing the broad avenues, the winding cul-de-sacs. You could merge onto one as if you were a piece of flotsam tumbling into a river from a creek, and not emerge from the steady current until hundreds of miles later. Merge is exactly right: on the interstate you can enter effortlessly not only into the flow of traffic but into a comforting anonymity, hiding in plain sight. Camouflaged and safe.

 We have no precise words for how the wolf was known and loved or feared but we do know a lot about his early days, how he was born as part of a litter of pups on the northern part of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. We know this because he and his littermates were captured and radio-collared early on because that’s what biologists do with Mexican wolves when they can get their hands on them. And we know that the wolf that came to be known as m1572 turned up lame only a couple of months after that initial capture and was re-captured and brought to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico to be treated. And we know, because of the radio-collar, that m1572 was after that sometimes alone, sometimes with his pack. This was from the spring into the fall of 2017. His sister, f1570, died. His brother, m1571, sometimes traveled alone too, once roaming way up onto Navajo lands, where he was re-captured and sent back south to what federal and state officials deem the official Mexican wolf recovery zone.

I remember the feel of those early days alone in Arizona, the sense both of boundless possibility and of getting further out on a limb, away from family, away from what I’d known. There were more ways than before that things could go right, and there were more ways that things could go wrong. At that time the story of Chris McCandless immortalized in Into the Wild had come out only recently, the tale of how one young man had gone Way Out West and ended up dead in the Alaskan wild. Dispersing from home—it seemed necessary, but treacherous.

For biologists, the idea is that species need to experience some genetic mixing, so in some species—especially predators—some of the young disperse to find their own place. It’s always a risky prospect full of grapplings with new and unknown landscapes. By October m1572 was traveling on his own, covering long distances on White Mountain Apache land. In November he headed west, onto the Coconino National Forest. This had happened before with individual wolves but only rarely.

 I washed up safe and sound in Flagstaff and came to surround myself with some of what I had left behind: family, house, steady job. It’s my territory, home, and it’s in that setting that we decided to drive down to Phoenix for my birthday. So this part of the story begins with one of the rare snowy days this winter. Traffic on the I-17 was moving slow. I was driving. Up ahead on the slushy shoulder I saw an animal form. My mind did a quick sort: Elk? Too small. Deer? Not the right shape. Coyote? Awfully big. Dog? Maybe. We slowed and stopped on the shoulder. The animal was bushy, stocky, broad-shouldered, with a lush pelt. We were just talking about how we should get out to see if it was a lost dog when it turned and we saw its collar: not that of a dog, but a wide, chunky one, that of a wild animal that has been deemed in need of tracking.

It was a wolf, an animal I’d heard in Arizona before but never seen, and we were glad to see that it ran off from the road into the snowy woods, and not so glad to see that it was limping.

But this isn’t the story you might think, about an exciting wildlife sighting and some revelatory or even spiritual message one might draw from it. No, this is a story about how later that day m1572 was killed on the road, a failed dispersal by an animal that couldn’t quite manage the human-managed landscape. It’s a sad story, just as stories of young people who don’t make it through are sad. Though it’s worth noting that m1571 is still out there, at least as of the end of February, roaming with a female wolf from a different pack. So maybe it’s a story about hope too, hope that we can have a world where the young of all species can do the exploration they need to do and end up where they ought to be.

 Peter Friederici is a writer and a former itinerant field biologist and tour guide who in his spare time directs the Master of Arts Program in Sustainable Communities at Northern Arizona University.

Assault Rifle Slaughter of Alaskan Denali Wolves

“Alaska’s predator control program is clearly out of control,”

Washington, DC, April 3, 2018 — The State of Alaska is scrambling to shut down hunting and trapping adjacent to Denali National Park over concerns that excessive kills may destabilize this iconic wolf population. Photos posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) show a man armed with an AR15 semiautomatic rifle displaying ten wolf carcasses outside Denali.

In an emergency order issued on March 30, 2018 and revised yesterday, Alaska Department of Fish & Game (DFG) cut short the hunting and trapping season on state land along the Stampede Trail, including land adjacent to the eastern boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve. The stated reason for the order is that –

“The wolf harvest this season in the area described is more than the past 5-year average and there is the potential for more harvest to occur before the end of the regulatory hunting and trapping seasons.”

While DFG claims in its order that “There are no conservation concerns for wolves” in the Denali region, the agency admits that it has no idea how many wolves have been killed this year. Moreover, the state has not acknowledged reports that a hunter on a snow machine armed with a semiautomatic rifle recently killed ten wolves outside Denali.

“While I am glad that Governor Walker has acted I am concerned that it may be too little, too late,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and PEER board member, who has led the charge for permanent buffer zones around Denali. “The historic high level of take has already altered wolf ecological dynamics, not counting these reports of additional kills just now coming in.”

Studies show hunting and trapping outside Denali is having a big impact on the viability of wolf packs inside Denali, which is Alaska’s top tourist attraction, drawing more than a half-million visitors annually. Not only are Denali wolf family groups disrupted, but visitor-viewing success has plummeted as well.

Similarly, at Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, hunting has so decimated wolf packs that the National Park Service had to end a more than 20-year research program on predator-prey relationships. Its scientists found that the wolf population in the 2.5 million acre national preserve is “no longer in a natural state” nor are there enough survivors to maintain a “self-sustaining population.”

Significantly, Alaska has agreed to participate in an independent National Academy of Sciences review of its predator control programs for the first time in 20 years since the administration of Governor Tony Knowles (1994-2002), the only governor in Alaska history to prohibit lethal predator control programs.

“Alaska’s predator control program is clearly out of control,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Alaska should put predator control on hold until it gets a handle on what is actually occurring.”

In response to the recent excessive losses at Denali, Alaska citizens are renewing their call for the Governor to establish a permanent no-kill buffer protecting all park predator species – wolves, bears, lynx, wolverines – along the boundary of Denali, to restore the natural ecosystem and visitor viewing success in the park.

Read the state emergency hunting and trapping closure order

Look at hunting adverse impacts on Denali wolf packs

See decimation of Yukon-Charley wolf packs

View Trump repeal of hunting restrictions inside Alaskan national parks and refuges

Look at growing doubts about Alaska’s predator control program

Criticism grows over Ryan “Dinky” Zinke’s pick to head wildlife service

“”Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is appointing a top critic of endangered species protections the head of the agency charged with protecting the critters, while moving to remove protections from nearly 300 animals.

Susan Combs was supposed to serve as Zinke’s undersecretary for policy, but because of holdups in the Senate, he has chosen to appoint her as the acting head of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The decision was taken last month, but news outlets began pointing out her hostility toward the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday. The Washington Post cited a statement in which she likened an animal being placed on the endangered list to a “Scud missile” — the weapon of choice of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The Interior Department said Combs will serve as the acting assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife, until a deal can be reached to confirm her as the agency’s top policy official.

But that didn’t stop conservation groups and activists from pointing out Combs’ lack of compatibility with the goals of the Endangered Species Act.

“Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,” said Stephanie Kurose, an endangered species specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The group is suing the Trump administration for the harm posed to species by President Trump’s proposed border wall.

The group on Wednesday used the media attention gathering against Combs to underscore a proposed rule that it argues would remove protections from almost 300 species.

The proposed rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget on Monday for preliminary review. The rule would remove the blanket application for the Endangered Species Act’s section 4(d) decisions, which are used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate a species as threatened. The 4(d) designation is typically one step away from listing a species as endangered under the law.

“The Trump administration just issued a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species,” said Noah Greenwald, the conservation group’s endangered species director. “If enacted, this rule could be the end for iconic wildlife like the northern spotted owl and southern sea otter.”

Welfare Ranchers Get More Grazing Flexibility With New Program

as published on KUER.org

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory…”

Following Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke‘s repeated calls for more management of public lands, this spring the Bureau of Land Management is giving certain ranchers more say and options in grazing their cattle on public lands.

Say there’s a spring with lots of rain and the grass is long and lush into June. A rancher might want to let his cows graze on those lands longer than in a dry year. Right now, the rancher probably can’t do that. But in test projects in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado that’s changing.

“We get so tied up in rigid format and regulation, that we just couldn’t respond like we needed to,” said Ken Crane, a field manager with the BLM in Burley, Idaho. “It would frustrate everybody.”

Crane says flexibility is especially important after wildfires, when cows may need to be moved around.

But some environmental groups are skeptical.

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory,” said Erik Molvar with Western Watersheds Project.

The BLM is working with 11 ranchers across the West to pilot the program.

http://kuer.org/post/ranchers-get-more-grazing-flexibility-new-program#stream/0

The Sad Truth of Using Public Lands for Cattle Grazing

as published on The Hill

“There is no shortage of severe damage from livestock overgrazing on public lands in my home state of Wyoming…

Thanks to a legal settlement between conservation groups and the National Park Service, Point Reyes National Seashore has now stopped blindly rubber-stamping long-term dairy and beef grazing leases on public land, and the agency will write a general management plan that hopefully will guide this cattle-bitten area toward a more environmentally sustainable future. Today, about one-fourth of the National Seashore is committed to intensive, industrial-scale agriculture on public lands that by law is supposed to be managed for “public recreation, benefit, and inspiration.”

There is no shortage of severe damage from livestock overgrazing on public lands in my home state of Wyoming, but when I first visited Point Reyes a year ago, I was appalled to find that livestock operations have completely converted the native coastal prairies to closely-cropped lawns of European annual grass on the lands where they operate. In the Intermountain West, one can at least find remnant patches of native vegetation; on Point Reyes pastures, non-native grasses dominate.

On Point Reyes, the Park Service allows ranches to plow under the grasses across thousands of acres of National Seashore land to plant invasive weeds, wild mustard and white charlock, as “silage” to feed the cattle. Ground-nesting birds use these silage fields for nesting, and when they are mowed during nesting season, these birds and their chicks are often killed. Silage weeds spread from the fields where they are planted to invade the surrounding grazing lands, and even lands that have been closed to grazing.

And throughout the grazed pastures, mounds of invasive milk thistle spring up everywhere like clumps of contagion to put the sickness of the land on full display.

These pastures serve as supplemental feed for open-air feedlots that accumulate piles of manure taller than a basketball player on Park Service lands. The manure is then liquefied and sprayed all over the tops of the bluffs, where the sea breezes waft the pungent sewage scent throughout the National Seashore.

It is a well-known fact that livestock operations produce significant amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Converting deep-rooted perennial grasses native to the region to shallow-rooted annual grasses from Europe in livestock pastures also depletes the land’s ability to sequester carbon. While ranchers claim they’re trying to reduce their carbon footprint, in reality livestock removal is a far more effective option from a climate change standpoint.

Meanwhile, the rare tule elk has been reintroduced at Point Reyes, and is starting to make a comeback. But the main population is imprisoned on a 2,600-acre spit of land called Tomales Point behind an eight-foot-tall fence, designed to keep elk away from the livestock operations. While there is plenty of fog on the central California coast, rainfall can be scarce at times. Drought conditions between 2012 and 2014 caused mass die-offs of elk at Tomales Point due to lack of available water (and perhaps dietary deficiencies due to the absence of diverse soil types on this small peninsula), in which 250 elk perished.

Add this problem to E. coli contamination of streams, estuaries, and even beaches, throw in miles of fences that entangle wildlife, and top it all off with the loss of threatened and endangered plants and wildlife from the coho salmon to the Myrtle’s silverspot butterfly, and commercial livestock operations are revealed as completely incompatible with the conservation requirements of the National Seashore.

The livestock industry is now scrambling to try to characterize modern beef and dairy operations as “historic ranches” that should be protected. Though they get some credit for being organic, they are still doing a tremendous amount of environmental damage to the lands, waters, and wildlife of the area.

Between 1962 and 1978, every single one of the private ranches on the National Seashore was bought up at fair-market value by the National Park Service, with the intention to phase out commercial agriculture. Beef and dairy operations were paid a total of $57.7 million to sell their lands to make way for a National Seashore, and in 2018 dollars, that’s an average of $12.5 million apiece. The Park Service even offered a bonus to sweeten the deal: “life estates,” which allowed the former ranch owners to stay on in houses owned by the Park Service, and run their livestock operations on leased National Seashore lands for a 25-year period.

Today, almost all of the life estates have run their course, and it is time for the agricultural operations to live up to their end of the bargain. Private lands abound in the surrounding region, making it relatively simple to relocate a ranch operation. It must be hard to give up the highly privileged lifestyle of living in National Park Service housing by the sea. But it’s time to phase out ranching and phase in the native grazers — the tule elk — just as the Park Service committed to do in its 1998 Tule Elk Management Plan.

Meanwhile, the fate of the one real historic ranch on the National Seashore — the Pierce Point Ranch — offers hope for a better future. Here, livestock were removed in 1973, never to return. These lands became the Tomales Point elk preserve. On the elk preserve, the rare native coastal prairies are returning, bringing an abundance of wildlife with it.

In place of stinking, degraded pastures dominated by invasive weeds, visitors now can enjoy a natural coastal landscape. It’s a gorgeous contrast to the degraded livestock zone, and provides a glimpse of what a recovered National Seashore will look like.

Point Reyes National Seashore is within an easy day’s drive of 7 million local residents, and already receives more than 2 million visitors a year. The agriculture industry controls the lands that are the gateway for most recreational visitors. In one of America’s most densely-populated regions, public lands with high recreation value are in short supply. We can no longer afford to saddle scenic National Park Service Lands with ugly, smelly, and high-impact agricultural operations. By tearing down the fences and returning these livestock-damaged lands to nature under the new General Management Plan, Point Reyes can take its rightful place as a second Yellowstone along the California coast, and a jewel in the crown of the National Park system.

Erik Molvar is a wildlife biologist and executive director of Western Watersheds Project, a nonprofit conservation group working to protect wildlife and watersheds on western public lands. Western Watersheds Project was a plaintiff in the case that resulted in a settlement preventing long-term livestock leases on these Park Service lands and requiring a new Point Reyes General Management Plan.

Thanks to Scott Pruitt, 30 Million Pounds of Brain-Damaging Pesticide Will Be Sprayed on Crops in Next 5 Years

SOURCE:  Environmental Working Group

Thursday, March 29, 2018

One year ago today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt sided with the pesticide lobby over EPA scientists in an eleventh-hour decision to abort the agency’s proposal to ban chlorpyrifos from use on food crops. Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide that can harm children’s brains and nervous systems at small doses.

If Pruitt had stood by his own scientists, the chlorpyrifos ban could have taken practical effect next year, but now the EPA won’t reevaluate its safety until 2022. Based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey, the delay means roughly 30 million pounds of the weed-killer will be sprayed on cropland throughout the country in the next five years.

How much chlorpyrifos is sprayed in your region? Find out with EWG’s interactive map.

The evidence is overwhelming that even small doses of chlorpyrifos can damage parts of the brain that control language, memory, behavior and emotion. Multiple independent studies have documented that exposure to chlorpyrifos impairs children’s IQs. EPA scientists’ assessments of those studies concluded that levels of the pesticide currently found on food and in drinking water are unsafe.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.